Tatara Workshop is an artistic studio space founded by Fred. The focus is on establishing the artform of kanna, a Japanese craft working like an arboreal stethoscope that brings us closer in sense to our landsacape. With an understanding of the underlying unity of form and function objects are made that bring harmony to everyday life.  

It is clear that the greatest works of architecture and design occur when there is an intelligent dialogue between the maker and the material. It is no wonder that the great temples of the east and the west were overseen by masterbuilders working in a rich tradition, starting at the bottom by slowly mastering the tools and techniques before finally becoming the architect. The word Architect comes from the Greek arkhi - ‘chief’ and tektōn - ‘artisan’, head artisan. It is in this vein that Tatara Workshop aspires to produce works that uphold the living culture from this almost lost world.

Working on a small scale with one piece being made after another, a high level of craftsmanship is required to make something that can move through the generations, improving with age. Furniture that is soft on the senses, has clear forms and is quietly expressive, with the voice of the tree uninterrupted, this is an alive and ever evolving process.

Following a degree in Psychology my journey into craft started professionally with a 6 months apprenticeship in a cabinet making shop in Captain Cook, Hawaii, a special place raw and alive with the forces of creation. This however turned out to be a stepping stone, I was fortunate to be sent the following article by Tom Sorensen head of Ali’i Woodtailors whilst working there -

“Tokunaga Furniture and the Art of Wood Working Without Sandpaper”

After getting in contact and expressing my interest and ambitions it soon became clear that there was some alignment of purpose, propelled by a huge amount of faith.  This resulted in a 1 year apprenticeship under Toshio Tokunaga, who’s master was Japanese National Treasure Hekigai Takeuchi, a rare jewel and complete artist who apprenticed under several masters before devoting his life to his work in Kyoto. For the first 10 months I was based in a workshop in Nara, recently setup and ran by an apprentice of Tokunaga sensei. Here we used the local and reknowned Yoshino Sugi, from one of the worlds longest running afforestation programs. Time was also spent in Tokunaga sensei’s workhop until I lived with him and his wife for the last 2 months, with his assertion that I would be a master of kanna and help contribute to a living tradition. When I expressed interest in staying longer I was told there is a saying in Japanese,

when a man wants to build a house but first needs to clear the land of trees and scrub, he does not need to go to the sawmill to buy wood, he first uses what he has

Tatara - the furnace used to smelt the steel to make the tools

Tatara Workshop is a quest for harmony, between the maker, the tools, and the material. The work is an expression of this triad, and when these elements are able to express themselves freely they are transcended by an object that can endure and inspire for centuries.

Each piece is unique, even the same design made many times, like ceramics spun on the potters wheel. The singular quality of each creation is a comforting reminder of our own nature, imperfect and alive.